No more virginity test – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked the world to end virginity testing, saying it is unscientific, harmful and a violation of the rights of women and girls.

According to WHO, “Virginity Testing” has no scientific or clinical basis. There is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex – and the appearance of a woman or girl’s hymen cannot prove whether they have had sexual intercourse or are sexually active or not.

The WHO, UN Human Rights and UN Women have jointly called for its elimination.

“Virginity Testing”, which is also often referred to as hymen, “two-finger” or per private part examination, is an inspection of female genitalia to determine whether a woman or girl has had intercourse with a male partner.

But, WHO has said “Virginity Testing” is a violation of the human rights of girls and women, and can be detrimental to their physical, psychological and social well-being.

‘Virginity Testing” reinforces the stereotyped notion of female sexuality and gender inequality.

Painting the magnitude of the trauma women and girls endure, WHO, UN Human Rights and UN Women said: “The examination can be painful, humiliating and traumatic. Given that these procedures are unnecessary and potentially harmful, it is unethical for doctors or other health providers to undertake them. Such procedures must never be carried out.”

The interagency statement underlines that Virginity Testing, which has been documented in many places, is a long-standing tradition in a number of countries.

In an inter-agency statement, which was published on the website of WHO, captioned ‘sexual and reproductive health’, it noted that such tests are considered part of the assessment of survivors of rape.

This is unnecessary and can cause pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, which goes to exacerbate survivors’ sense of disempowerment and cause re-victimisation.

Calling on all and sundry to end the menace, WHO noted in the statement that the elimination of the harmful practice will require a response from across society, and supported by the public health community and health systems, including health professionals.

Health professionals need to be effectively supported to refuse requests by using the appropriate laws and policies.

It further revealed that the result of this unscientific test can impact upon judicial proceedings, often to the detriment of victims and in favour of the perpetrators, sometimes resulting in the perpetrators being acquitted.

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Source: The Chronicle 

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